Planning Commission gets power to require adequate facilities Measure's aim is to curb uncontrolled growth

January 05, 1996|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

The County Commissioners voted unanimously last night to amend an existing ordinance and give the Planning Commission authority to deny site plan approval in areas where facilities are deemed inadequate.

The ordinance also will make the construction of businesses and multifamily dwellings subject to the adequate-facilities requirement.

The change could stop new development in Carroll County where many areas are without adequate schools and roads.

The vote drew a loud ovation from a crowd of about 150 people gathered at Carrolltowne Elementary, a severely crowded school that will soon have 10 portable classrooms.

South Carroll residents long have complained about uncontrolled growth in the area, where a third of all the new homes in the county were built last year.

"We have to set the stage for managed growth and I hope this vote will reflect that," said Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown. "It is a form of insanity to continue as we are."

The change, which will take effect Jan. 14, casts doubt on the future of a proposed 250-unit rental-housing complex near Ridge and Liberty roads, a crossing rated as one of the most dangerous in the county.

"Multifamily units can go up almost overnight and have an instant impact on schools," said Dan Hughes, founder of Better Solutions for South Carroll, a neighborhood activist group.

At the outset of the public hearing, the county attorney read a letter from the Carroll County Chapter of the Homebuilders Association, which labeled the amendment as "discouraging to planned commercial and residential development."

Mr. Hughes countered that the amendment was "another tool in a growth management package."

Jim Schulte, vice president of Security Developers -- a Howard County company that plans to build the 250 townhouse units in the final phase of its Carrolltowne subdivision -- called the amendment "inappropriate if not illegal."

"New development is not the sole cause of overcrowded schools," Mr. Schulte said.

Several Carrolltowne residents urged the commissioners to approve the amendment.

Carolyn Fairbank said the Freedom District water and sewer systems are overburdened.

John Mountcastle called the amendment an important tool that the county has needed for a long time, but said he was unsure what would happen if Security Developers sued the county.

"This is not over by any means," Mr. Mountcastle said. "I think this will end up in court."

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